I'm an experienced cook and have, for the past twelve years or so, been cooking with a tiny repertoire of not great (but not terrible) pots and pans, which are now, essentially, destroyed and must be replaced. I now finally have a big, new kitchen, and a bit more money, and can buy some decent pans, but I'm making myself crazy trying to figure out what to get. (Though I'm planning on doing a LC dutch oven, purchased from one of their outlet stores.) Would any of you be able to help me? Here's what I definitely need:
-- 12-inch frying pan
-- 12-inch saute pan
-- pot for boiling pasta
-- two smaller saucepans
-- dutch oven (5-quart?)
Here's what I think would also be good to have:
-- 8-inch, and 10-inch frying pan
-- nonstick pan
I can't spend thousands and thousands, but I could spend perhaps 500-600 bucks (though would love to spend less), and I want to make sure I'm using the money in the best way. I can't figure out which of the following I should do, to maximize my budget, and get pans I'll love (trouble is that I've never used All-Clad or any of the All-Clad knock-offs, so I feel a bit lost about what to choose). Here are the things I've been considering:
1. A Cuisinart Multi-Clad Pro set (I believe there's a 10-piece set for about $300). I've read reviews of this line and some are great, but some are bad (or say, "not as good as All-Clad"). Has anyone used it? Would this be a good option for me? (Considering that I need basics, like saucepans.)
2. An Emeril/All-Clad set (again, a 10-piece set is about $200). Hereagain, I've read some bad reviews and some good. It's hard to figure out if these will be good or not. (I don't mind the glass lids, by the way.) Anyone tried them? I worry that the handles are not stay-cool, as I have little kids (and you just never know with them).
3. A set of Calphalon Contemporary Stainless Steel. These, I know nothing about, but my destroyed set is Calphalon and there was much that I liked about it.
4. A non-set option: Buying a couple of All-Clad Copper-core pans from the All-Clad outlet (12-inch fry, $150 bucks; 10-inch fry, $95), and then figuring out less expensive options for everything else (any ideas would be most welcome!). One worry: The handles on All-Clad pans seem a little uncomfortable to me (maybe because I'm used to the rounder, Calphalon handles). Has anyone found this to be the case?
5. Another non-set option: Buying a couple of Sur Le Table SS pans (12-inch fry, $90), and then, again, less expensive options for everything else. Has anyone used these? Do you like them?
Okay, I apologize for the length of this note. As I said, I'm making myself a little crazy trying to decide about this (I suppose because money feels so precious right now; I fear making a mistake). If anyone has any thoughts or advice for me, I'd be so grateful.
Many, many thanks,